Pop Quiz: What do you do when the most glorious time of your life turns into a nightmare?
Answer: Lean on your squad girls.
Less than halfway through my pregnancy, my doctor put me on bed rest for an incompetent cervix. She told me to lie down, keep my legs shut, and hope my baby didn’t fall out. My friends and family all reacted to the news differently. Some wanted to help, but others were at a loss.
Fortunately, a few saviors stepped right in with lists of specialists, massage therapists, and good advice. One of my girls even showed up with bottles of nail polish and bags of croissants. I never would have made it through those months of uncertainty and chaos if it hadn’t been for this stellar support team. Here’s what you can do to help your bestie on bed rest:
1. Get in bed with her.
This is all about solidarity. As her best friend, you vowed to be there through thick and thin. This is the thick. Even if she has the most doting partner, nobody understands her fears the way you do. Put on your LuLaRoes, get a big tub of ice cream, and slide into bed next to her. Your whole job is to get her mind off bed rest and make her laugh.
One surefire way to do this? Watch old ’80s sitcoms together. When I was on bed rest, a good friend brought me Happy Days on VHS. Yes, I’m aware I’m probably the only one who still owns a VCR, but eight episodes in, we were both laughing and crushing hard on the Fonz. If you do one thing for her and nothing else, this should be it. She will remember the kindness forever.
2. Send care packages.
My best friend lives three hours away, but she sent me a box full of Glamour magazines, word puzzles, and CDs. There was also an ample supply of hand cream, Chapstick, and cozy socks. By no means were these necessities, but that was the whole point. The one thing I was sorely lacking was pampering, and this care package, among many others that arrived at my doorstep, reminded me I was loved at a time when I was most vulnerable and afraid. It also gave me an excuse to get out of bed to answer the door and chat up the cute UPS guy.
3. Book a spa day.
Stuck in bed, I couldn’t even see my feet, let alone walk on them, but I would have named my child after the first person who agreed to come to my house to give me a pedicure. A bed-resting woman still needs to feel like a woman. So find out what that means to your friend and go out and get it for her. I live in a rural area, so it is hard to find in-home spa services of any kind, but we did manage to convince a prenatal massage therapist to come to the house weekly. I looked forward to her visit, not only for the amazing way she made my body feel, but for her one hour of undivided attention. This massage therapist was my saving grace.
4. Clean her house.
Nothing says I love you like scrubbing your friend’s toilet. She’ll say no, but do it anyway. Walk in, dangle a pastry in front of her, and demand to know where she keeps the cleaning supplies. Even if her partner is keeping up appearances, and the house looks like it is well kept, find something to scrub. I’m a neat freak, and I couldn’t stand the dust bunnies piling up. When one of my girlfriends came over, she always brought a snack and tidied up my space. Having things in order made me feel more in control of my situation. Bonus points for stripping her bed, washing the sheets, and replacing them with luxurious new ones.
5. Cook your heart out.
My mother sent frozen noodle kugel through the mail. Sometimes it was a little soggy, but we could taste the love in every bite. Find out your friend’s food restrictions, and prepare her a meal, or five. Stock her freezer for her and her family, but bring easy-to-access treats for the daytime too. I lived on a diet of cheese, carrots, and cashews, but it was a lovely reprieve when friends came over with ready-made meals. Even better was when they sat down and ate with me.
6. Take her kids.
If this is her first rodeo, your focus should be on her well-being. But if she has other kids, she’s feeling some major mama guilt. This is where you step in and take those precious babes off her hands for an afternoon so she can get some much-needed rest. It will give her peace of mind knowing her kids are out having a blast, while she gets to focus on herself and bond with the child still growing inside her.
I wish I could say that being on bed rest felt like a spa experience where my every whim was met with ease and I got to lounge around all day. Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite. I spent most of those months struggling with fear and depression. But the support of my squad girls saved me from my darkest hours of loneliness and uncertainty. Even if you can’t physically be there for your bestie, you can still do the single most important thing: You can listen.
Being on bed rest is one of the scariest experiences a pregnant woman will ever have to face. Don’t let her do it alone. And don’t forget the croissants.